Winter Blooms

This winter in Seattle can’t seem to make up its mind. No snow quite yet, but plenty of drizzle. They’ve been predicting it for a few days, though, so maybe we’ll have gotten some noticeable flakes by the time this posts. That’d be fun.

With the colder weather rolling in, I’m super happy to have the third season of Anne with an E to watch, because it definitely picked up in the second season. Not that I didn’t like the first season, but I really love the diversity of characters they introduced as they went along. It feels like they’ve very much kept the spirit of the books and just broadened the scope of it.

And, in keeping with that spirit, here are some very romantical winter flowers that I discovered in the arboretum. Turns out they have a whole garden devoted to things that bloom in the colder months, and it is gorgeous. It smells amazing, too.

Daphne flowers. I thought they were a type of jasmine at first, because the scent was so sweet and strong, but they’re a whole different plant that I now really want for my own garden.
Daphne flowers
Hellebore
Pink camellias, I’m pretty sure
More pink camellias
Yellow witch hazel flowers. They smelled divine.
Yellow witch hazel with lots of frilly lichen
More yellow witch hazel and a path through the bushes
Orange witch hazel flowers
Some sort of interesting bulbous flower bud on bare branches. Possibly an edgeworthia, but I’m not sure.
A still pond full of algae and floating plants
A pair of mallard ducks in a different pond
Some new buds forming on a mossy branch in front of ferns

Last Nature Walk of 2019

My sister and I managed to fit in a nice little hike at Foothills Park before she had to catch her flight. It’s possible that I’ll get a little more hiking done before the end of the year, but this was definitely a very nice walk to cap off the decade with. We met a surprising number of cute critters, and even saw a bobcat, although he was too far away to photograph.

Arboreal salamander. These guys have quite a set of jaws on them for salamanders, although I’ve never personally been bitten by one. They’re usually pretty chill, in my experience.
California slender salamander
California slender salamander
Little white mushrooms in grass
A baby california slender salamander in their classic defensive/resting pose
California newt hanging out on a log
Feather millipede refusing to pose for the camera
Camel cricket
Oak branches against a blue sky
Trees being majestic and stuff

Pretty Leaves and Fuzzy Caterpillars

I’m visiting my family in the Bay Area this weekend, but here are some pictures of the arboretum and the cute caterpillars I met there a few weeks ago.

Red maple leaves and a nice clear sky
Pink flower of some sort
Cool sunshine over a structure at the arboretum
Variegated leaves on a pretty plant at the arboretum
Adorable fuzzy caterpillar!
I had to move a few of these guys off the path. Don’t touch these fuzzy guys with bare fingers unless you know they’re friendly. Some have stinging hairs.
Light purple aster (I think) flowers

I’m Still Not Used to Having Seasons

It’s interesting to feel how decisively Summer turns into Fall in Seattle. I grew up in the Bay Area in California, which really only has two seasons: Summer and Fall, but there’s not a ton of definition between them. You just eventually notice that Starbucks is carrying pumpkin spice lattes and decide that, even though it’s still uncomfortably warm out, you’re gonna wear a scarf, dammit. (And then stubbornly wear it all day while your neck itches and sweats. At least it’s cute.)

In Seattle, I just step outside one day and it feels like Autumn all of a sudden. It wavers back and forth a few times, but after that the Summer is pretty solidly over. Even the bright and sunny days that follow feel muted. The sunshine gets a little more golden, like it’s permanently set in late afternoon mode, and the flowers look like they’re getting ready for bed even though they’re still blooming bravely away. There are days like this in California, to be sure, but they’re usually heavily interspersed with heat that feels like it’s been personally sent to punish you for getting out of your air-conditioned car.

I can definitely get on board with this kind of beautiful, crisp Autumn, although I’m still not convinced about the whole snow and ice in Winter thing. I think that I’d still choose light sweaters and sushi at Christmas over getting snowed into the house and watching the neighbor kids sledding down the street with their big old dog, intriguingly novel as that very Hallmark experience was.

Spring is on probation. It’s awfully damp and the days are too short, but it makes the salamanders happy. Gotta think of the salamanders.

Blackberry vines running through a bush that’s turning bright red
Pink fuchsia flowers. They always look like ballerinas to me. If you pluck one and pinch off the stem, you can stick it through the middle bit of the flower to make a tiny little doll.
A hot pink dahlia flower that’s been nibbled at a little bit by slugs. Still pretty, though.
An unopened sunflower with little earwig tenants

A Walk in the Washington Park Arboretum

This is definitely my new favorite place to walk with the dogs. It’s so peaceful, and there are so many different paths to take.

Beautifully arranged rocks among the greenery
Mossy branches and emerald green leaves
A cool plant with broad leaves next to a pond covered in floating duckweed
A mossy tree trunk
A well disguised salamander larva lurking in the mud at the bottom of one of the ponds
Another baby salamander hanging out under the duckweed
One of the beautiful calm pools around the arboretum. I love that they don’t keep fish in any of them, which means that amphibians can use them safely for breeding.
A pretty pink flower in the undergrowth
Cute little brown mushrooms on a mossy log

A Walk in the Woods

I’m still doing my best to keep up my walking habit. It got harder over the winter, but there’s tons of beautiful scenery to enjoy now. There are longer gaps than I’d prefer between my proper long walks, but I also try not to let it turn into a source of guilt, because guilt is like ADHD kryptonite. Even if I forget or get busy for a week, I’ll always come back to it because it’s fun and it makes me feel good. Plus, I find all sorts of cool things to take pictures of.

White mushrooms on a log
Pink bleeding heart flowers in front of a mossy log
A fern frond
Cute yellow wildflowers
A little slug enjoying a nice mossy patch
These might be salmonberry blossoms. I vaguely remember them from last year.

California Nature Walk

I’ve mostly been hanging out with family and getting to know my cousin’s new baby, but my sister and I managed to get in some fun nature time. We found many excellent creatures and plants around a vernal pond we’ve been visiting since we were little.

Pacific treefrog
Newt egg sacks with daphnia clinging on the outside. When those newts hatch, daphnia will be their main food source.
Baby California newt
Baby California newts, and a dragonfly larvae. Dragonfly larvae are one of their main predators at this stage in life.
An adult male California newt (Taricha torosa) in breeding conditon. Males swell up and their skin gets smoother at breeding time.
The same male newt. California newts are extremely poisonous, and that bright orange belly is a warning. Do not handle them if you have any open cuts or scratches, and always wash hands thoroughly before eating after touching one.
California slender salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus)
Another slender salamander
Turkey tail fungus (probably)
More turkey tails
They’re just really pretty mushrooms. I like them.
Some final turkey tails
Western fence lizard who was not at all intimidated by me or my phone. These lizards cleanse the local ticks of Lyme disease. They’re awesome.
Stink beetle
Fuzzy caterpillar. Not sure what species.
Another fuzzy caterpillar
Pretty orange wildflowers
Wild garlic. I think.
Pretty white wildflowers
Wild garlicky thing with a tiny beetle friend
An oak tree that broke since the last time I hiked here
Eucalyptus trees
Oak trees and the bay area hills

Beach Pictures

I visited discovery park with a friend today and got to enjoy the beautiful beach at low tide. There was a serious shortage of crabs, but a surplus of pretty anemones, so I guess it balanced out.

A pretty pink and yellow anemone on sand
A pinkish purple anemone in very shallow water on sand
A large multi-colored anemone on sand
A closed anemone on sand
A bunch of anemones on rocks
Multi-colored anemone on a rock
Three pinkish purple anemones on sand

I’ve decided to stop sharing my writing day count here. I’m not sure it was helpful in the long term, but it was worth trying. I’m always experimenting with different ways to motivate myself. It keeps things interesting.